“He did have a good year in Arizona,” said Zimmer. “He plays real hard, plays smart, has some good toughness about him. We’re excited to have him.”
Zimmer had the advantage of having scouted the Vikings offense when the Bengals beat them 42-14 last season.
“I was nervous about them,” he said. “Obviously a great running back that they have and the skill that they have at receiver and tight end. I thought the offensive line was solid, and so you know every week is a different week in the NFL, but we were lucky enough that day to play pretty good.”
Does he think this club can compete next year after a 5-10-1 record in 2013?
“I do, I think, once we add the pieces,’’ Zimmer said. ‘‘Rick Spielman and I and all of the scouts are working real hard at all this. If we can get the right pieces in and stay healthy and have a little bit of luck, we have a chance to have a lot of success.
“I feel good about the offense. The offensive line, we have most of them returning. We have an excellent tight end in Kyle Rudolph. We’ve got some great skill players on the outside. We’re excited about some of the young receivers also. Also obviously Adrian [Peterson] will be a big benefit to us, too.”
So how does Zimmer feel about his first stint as a head coach so far?
“It feels good,” he said. “It hasn’t been overwhelming.”
• Jerry Kill was asked his impression in spring practice of junior college linebacker Cody Poock. “Wow, this kid is going to be pretty good,” Kill said. “He’s very good in special teams and is going to be a very, very good linebacker. He has great instincts, still has much to learn, but he’ll hit you now, and he’s physical and can run. So that was a big deal for us.”
• Toby Gerhart was paid $1 million last season as a part of his original Vikings rookie contract. His new contract with Jacksonville calls for three years and a total of $10.5 million.
• Lou Nanne was asked if it’s hard to be away from high school hockey because after his grandson Tyler graduates he won’t have any more family members playing: “No, because I’ve had the good fortune of having a grandson in the state tournament for the last five years, but for 45 before that I didn’t and I still enjoyed high school hockey. I get to see a lot of it.”
• The Barber family was in Gophers news again the other day when former Gophers and Houston Texans safety Dominic Barber became a member of Jerry Kill’s staff. No doubt Marion Barber was a great running back, but the word is that the youngest Barber, Tommy, an RB/LB for Robbinsdale Armstrong this fall, may turn out to be the best in the family.
• Next year the Gophers will play Iowa, Nebraska, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin in home and away games in men’s basketball. They will have home games only with Illinois, Northwestern, Ohio State and Rutgers. There are away games only at Indiana, Maryland, Michigan and Michigan State.
• When it comes to the Vikings signing defensive tackle Linval Joseph, who was paid $31.5 million over five years, Joseph said that the last offer from the New York Giants, who drafted him, was “nowhere near” the Vikings’ contract offer.